John Sample

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Laser Vision Correction - Part 1

Why am I getting laser vision correction?
Heres an example of how things look without my contacts or glasses.

With glasses/contacts:


About a month ago it was time for some new glasses and contacts, which was right around my birthday.
Lo and behold my wife and parents surprised me with the best present ever: they were going to pay for me to get LASIK.
They had already set up an appointement for me the following day.

The visit to the doctor wasn't quite what I expected.
First of all, its an actual doctor's office, not a store with an optometrist office in the corner and banners of 2 for 1 specials on glasses hanging all over the place.

Second, the tests were a bit different than what I've had before.

I've always been amazed at the weird devices eye doctors had you stick your face in. Between the puff in the eye, staring at pinwheels, and the various bright light in you eye machines, there is some new test every time I go.
This visit had the weirdest, but probably coolest, machine I've seen.
It was like sticking you head in a giant kaleidoscope.  Heres a picture I found of a lady's head in one. Its called an Orbscan machine:

Those circles start spinning and give you some serious tunnel vision.
It gives the doc a topographical map of your eye and cornea thickness. I'm going to try and get a copy of mine from the doctor so I can put it up here.

After this test is when things changed a bit, because I'm not a candidate for LASIK.  My corneas are too thin.
However, she said I was a candidate for PRK.
The difference between PRK and LASIK is that they don't have to cut the corneal flap, they just laser the outside. But, the PRK process is definitley less comfortable when it comes to recovery time.  People go back to work the next day after LASIK, but probably 3 or 4 days after PRK.

I had come in prepared for LASIK and this kind of threw me for a loop. At first I wasn't going to get it done, because one of my favorite hobbies is the avoidance of pain.
I needed some time to think about it, so we made another appointment for the next week.

I researched PRK the whole seven days. I learned all about epitheliums, surface ablations, epikeratomes, microkeratomes, and nuances of different brands of lasers. I think I may be qualified to perform the procedure on myself at this point.
I read glowing reviews of peoples surgeries, as well as horror stories.
From all I could gather, PRK is regarded by many to be superior to LASIK complications and results wise, but people get LASIK because of the pain factor.
Also, most of the complications I saw were realted to the LASIK flap (which I wouldn't be having) or a doctor giving the procedure to someone who really wasn't a candidate.  (Not an issue with my doctor, since she refused to do LASIK on me.)

Now the date is set, and I'm just counting moments until I go under the laser.

One of the things I haven't been able to get a feel for is just how much pain or discomfort there is during the recovery period.
Everywhere I look I see phrases such as “mild discomfort“ or “gritty sensation“. 

Thats the reason why I'm trying to get this experience in writing, so I can give anyone else contemplating the procedure a better idea of what it feels like.
Right now, I'm planning on using a 1 to 10 scale:
1. Fresh out of the shower
5. Day of swimming in a chlorinated pool.
10. Lemon juice in your eye.

One more thing.
I may be able have a new type of procedure called Epi-LASIK, but my doctor is still checking. Basically its the same as PRK, except they may be able to save the outer layer they burn off with alcohol during PRK.  The goal is to lessen the recovery time since the discomfort comes from having to grow back the outer layer.  This is still up in the air, so I'll post more about it when I know something.

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5 Part 6

posted on Saturday, October 30, 2004 9:39 AM


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